Old Website Town Pages
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Kvas on the Streets of Berdichev
By Yael Shamir-Driver, May 2001
Further west along Berdichev’s main
street we arrived at what were once the two oldest Jewish Cemeteries
in town. As in many other former Jewish towns,
the whole area was dug up and converted into a park named after Ukraine’s
national poet and writer Taras Shavchenko.
The old cemeteries, today Shavchenko Park
At one corner of the park there is a single stone surrounded by railings – a symbolic reminder to a curious
visitor of the former use of this area. If there was any inscription on this stone, it is no longer discernible
by the naked eye. Hence, even a curious visitor would have a hard time working out the meaning of this stone.
The lonely grave
The Search for One of the Many Old Synagogues:
Park we drove, looking for an old synagogue in the area of the ‘Bazaar’ [market
square].This is the area south of Shalom Aleichem Street, in the direction of the Gnilopiatka
River, on the banks of which Berdichev is situated.
We did not find the building so at a nearby police station we stopped to
ask. We were advised to look for a very old couple living down the road. This
couple, we were told, know all there is to know about old Berdichev. We strolled on looking for this couple
and it was not long before we spotted an elderly man carrying two buckets
of water. We stopped him and after a couple of seconds ascertain that he was indeed “our
man”. We offered to help him with the water
only to hear him reply with a smile – “I am only 82; I should
still be able to carry these buckets”. He
carried the buckets to a next door small wooden structure, straight out
of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, and called his wife.
|The old couple from Berdichev. Their residence had formerly been a Jewish home.
At first they were reticent to talk to strangers, but after a few seconds,
the ice broke. We learned that the couple had bought their residense 70 years ago. It
was a “house” in the midst of a totally Jewish area.
The “house” did not change since they bought it. From
our short encounter we learned that the wife went to school with
Jewish girls and still recalled some Yiddish and that the synagogue
which we were searching for, was long gone! We
also got the message that life in Berdichev today is no “milk
An Old Flour Mill that has Disappeared:
We looked for the
old Jewish flour mill, which used to stand on the northern bank of
the river at the western edge of the town, adjacent to what is now
the bridge leading to Zagrabellia. There was no trace of this mill
and we were later advised that it had disappeared many years ago.
Part 1 | Part2 | Part 3